Throwback Thursday: Revisiting Dancer/Filmmaker Joanne Nerenberg's award winning documentary, BODY JOB
A Meditation on Physicality in The Workplace
*originally published February 2, 2010
Joanne Nerenberg has always been interested in bringing movement ideas into the world. She began her career as a dancer and choreographer in the thriving San Francisco dance scene of the 90's, working with OnSite Dance Company, KneeJerk Dance Project, Jon Weaver, and her own Gravytrain Dance Performance Troupe.
In 1997, she relocated to New York City where she worked with the choreographers, Jennifer Monson and Yvonne Meir, and became a Gyrotonic instructor. It was in New York that she got her first full-time office job, as the in-house video producer for an exhibit at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. There was a lot of time spent seated behind a desk. It was stifling. Nerenberg found herself craving activity: searching for any way to walk around while performing her duties-- shifting up and down to get coffee, even performing handstands in the hallway.
One morning during the reverse commute from her home in Manhattan to Brooklyn, she was inspired by the moves of a traffic cop at the intersection of Tillary and Flatbush. He looked like he was dancing. Nerenberg describes the man as “an incredibly lively figure channeling spiritual energy into an otherwise dreary traffic jam.” What he was doing was “ bursting out of the envelope”. (Nerenberg is attracted to people who burst out of their envelopes.) She knew she had to get video footage of him doing his thing, and, she did. The footage became part of a dance TV show for kids called “move It!” which was optioned to Disney.
A seed was planted. Nerenberg, wanting to communicate the idea that movement is essential, wished to continue to explore the world of folks who see their jobs through a highly physical lens.
One of the subjects of "BODY JOB"- James Alexander Forbes, Jr. (born 1935) was the Senior Minister Emeritus of the Riverside Church in New York City. He was the first African American minister to lead this multicultural congregation, and served it for 18 years. He moves!
In order to communicate her passion to a broad audience, she knew that she would need to find extraordinary examples of people who fully employ their bodies at work. As it turned out, she did. Movement permeates the lives of the three subjects of "BODY JOB": Reverend James Forbes Jr., President and Founder of the Healing of the Nations Foundation of New York and former Senior Minister Emeritus of the Riverside Church; Dr. Bill Kazokas aka “Farmer Bill," farmer and teacher at Rancho La Puerta Spa in Mexico; and Dr. James Levine, endocrinologist and Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic who, by the way, is also lead inventor of The Office of The Future-- a fully functioning office that resembles a gym. The men are so physically charismatic, each one could have been the subject of a full- length documentary.
Nerenberg, who continues to teach dance at The Mark Morris Dance Group hopes her documentary will inspire people to re-think the way they approach working, perhaps incorporating more locomotion at the office. Walking meetings, anyone? Nerenberg claims she has had some of her best ideas while simply walking around.
The Dance Enthusiast is Delighted to Exclusively Host the Web Premiere of Joanne Nerenberg’s
Award Winning Documentary, BODY JOB !!!!